There's battle lines being drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speaking their minds
getting so much resistance from behind

Friday, September 28, 2018

Linkee-poo Friday

Alligators up to tuckus level, but bitey. So how about yesterday.

"That lingering (PCB) contamination can still cause problems for a range of species. Because of a unique blend of characteristics, however, orcas are particularly at risk. A paper in Science this week calculates just how bad those risks are, and the results are sobering: while some populations of orcas seem to be doing just fine, others are at risk of collapse."

"Dutch authorities have arrested seven men they believe were plotting to carry out a major terrorist attack against 'a large event in the Netherlands.'"

"The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit against entrepreneur Elon Musk alleging securities fraud. The complaint hasn't yet been made publicly available, but likely centers on his harebrained tweeting about taking the company private with foreign money." Yeah, could see that one coming from a mile away. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"What started as an impassioned, yet civil, debate quickly deteriorated after fellow panelist and USA Today columnist Kirsten Powers called Caputo out, as he put it, by declaring that men like him, and Trump, were in fact part of the problem. The alleged offenses involving Kavanaugh happened at 'a time when women just simply were not believed and everybody sounded like Donald Trump and Michael Caputo,' Powers said. '…Just listen to yourself.'" And that's how this actually will change. At this inflection point we will either call out the patriarchy for it's excesses, or people like Caputo will dominate the conversation and we'll be right back where we were. IMHO, when you parrot bullshit excuses, you deserve to be called out, on national television (his choice to be there and where he chose to try these arguments), and forcefully.

"Before they turn 18, about 8 percent of girls and 0.7 percent of boys experience rape or attempted rape, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the majority of these reported cases, the CDC says, the perpetrator is a peer: either an acquaintance or a current or former intimate partner… And yet few schools across the country are required to teach about consent or healthy relationships in sex ed classes." The Anita Hill testimony launched corporate anti-harassment campaigns and mandatory annual education (for many companies). Hopefully the good that will come from yesterday might lead to a new social awareness.

"A quick search for the term, however, would lead one to far different conclusions. 'Devil’s Triangle,' for example, features no prominent mentions as a drinking game before Kavanaugh’s confirmation process. It’s odd, considering that, at least according to Kavanaugh, the game has been around more than 30 years. What you will find, however, is a crude definition for group sex featuring a female and two male participants. In fact, it’s the colloquial term that features prominently in the bulk of Google’s results." He's a liar, and he's bad at lying. (Grokked from Lizz Winstead)

"The Senate Judiciary Committee will once again be the scene of a national drama Friday as its members prepare to vote on President Donald Trump's embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh." All that "concern" for nothing as the GOP Senators fall in line.

"The editors of America Magazine, a weekly Jesuit publication, initially endorsed Kavanaugh. The publication noted his stance on abortion and his lengthy career on the bench. But that all changed Thursday after hearing from Christine Blasey Ford, who detailed accusations that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed and tried to remove her clothes at a party when they were both teens." So begins the distancing. More "I supported him before I knew…" statements to come soon.

"Several Trump administration appointees in line for Rosenstein’s role overseeing Mueller’s probe come with their own baggage, from direct involvement in the probe to recent work at law firms with clients mired in the investigation."

"'I have been actively involved in Trump’s election campaign, and am part of the group on strategy development,' Kukes wrote in the email to Vyacheslav Pavlovsky, vice president of the state-owned Russian Railways and a former Russian ambassador to Norway. 'I will be in Switzerland July 20th till August 2nd. Let me know how you are doing, and whether you want to meet.'" Sure a lot of Russians around here. I'm sure there's a perfectly legit reason for this. "'To me this reads like an email exchange between a source and a handler, or a source and headquarters,' said Lindsay Moran, a former CIA officer, to whom NBC News showed the emails." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Linkee-poo time has come today

So, sometimes I love the internet. Re: alligator quotient,

"At a Photokina that’s set to be dominated by mirrorless full-frame cameras that cost thousands of dollars, Fujifilm has announced something even more advanced, opulent, and headline-grabbing: the 51.4-megapixel GFX 50R, which combines a medium format sensor with a rangefinder-style body." Here's the thing, if I want a medium format camera (and you bet your bottom dollar I do), I really don't want a rangefinder body. The whole point of medium format is the focal length of the body which gives you a deeper depth of field (there are other benefits, but that's the biggie).

"NPR's Mary Louise Kelly talks with branding expert Allen Adamson of the company Metaforce about the news that Weight Watchers will now be known as 'WW' and Dunkin Donuts as Dunkin'." Rebranding is a serious endeavor and it should only be taken as a method of last resort. Unfortunately that doesn't seem to the current marketing thinking.

"Five students at a Chattanooga high school were hospitalized on Wednesday with an illness that apparently stemmed from ingesting some sort of prescription medication, police and Hamilton County School officials said." But it totally wasn't an overdose, so say the police.

"The anniversary of a disaster gives us a moment to reflect on whether we have learned the right lessons — or any at all. This week, we examine the narratives that have solidified ten years after the financial crisis, and one year after Hurricane Maria." On the Media episode on how history tends to rhyme. Also on learning the right lessons (not necessarily the media narrative). Highly recommended.

"In a late act of drenching the Carolina coast, flood waters from Hurricane Florence are set to pour into Georgetown, South Carolina."

"The seven classic McDonald’s burgers sold in the U.S. are now free from artificial preservatives, flavors and colors, the company announced Wednesday."

"The first thing that hit Ashley Simpson when she opened her car door was the smell: a rotten, stale, mold smell, leftover from the sewage-contaminated floodwaters that engulfed her silver 2010 Chevrolet HHR Cruiser during Hurricane Florence. The next thing to hit her were the gnats flying out that had been breeding amid the mold for nearly a week." And some of those cars will find their way into the used car market.

"Canada-based Aurora Cannabis Inc. tripled its revenue thanks to bigger weed sales in the final quarter of its fiscal year, but the pot producer’s profit gains were mostly the result of a different business: investing in other marijuana companies." Who knew weed was such a good business?

"The Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the third time this year." Again, smart money at the beginning of the year was saying "2, maybe 3" rate increases this year. More than likely they will also raise the rate again in December.

"As rates continue to climb, it could place greater pressure on families who have been relying on their credit cards and mortgages to get by."

"Texas (AG) backs school that expelled girl over pledge of allegiance." Texas will lose this case.

"Take the cost of deportation: Immigration and Customs Enforcement has its own airline operation to fly deportees back home. So far this fiscal year, it's $107 million over budget." Also this year border crossing are up. So that's how well our "Zero Tolerance" policy has worked.

"The Department of Health and Human Services says it is reviewing all medical research involving human fetal tissue." Because of course they are. Can't say you're truly "pro-life" unless your against fetal tissue research.

So what does a Blue Wave look like? "The Texas voter rolls have grown to 15.6 million people, a new record, Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos confirmed." Yeah, that's one way. Also, just a programming note here, lots of polls about Democrats winning big in November, don't believe them. Don't be complacent. Get out and vote like your vote would be the deciding one. Because if there is a Blue Wave, it needs to be a shout, not a polite cough. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

"One of the men accused of poisoning a former Russian spy in England has been identified as a high-ranking of Russia's intelligence service." They were tourists in the same way the Russian military members fighting in Eastern Ukraine were "on vacation."

"Twitter activity around the protests also shows accounts believed to be linked to Russia's ongoing disinformation campaign helped to amplify the anti-Nike sentiment. 'They were definitely participating in the Nike hashtag and in particularly driving it at the beginning,' says John Kelly, the CEO of Graphika, a social media analysis firm that uses machine learning to monitor state-sponsored disinformation." (Waves to my Russian friends) (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"The legislation also includes a full year of funding for the Departments of Defense, Labor and Health and Human Services and a short-term extension of the Violence Against Women Act; but it has no new money for Trump's proposed wall with Mexico." Remember last year when the president said that would be the last time he signed a spending bill that didn't including funding for his wall? Apparently he's folding. Also, while it includes a full year of funding for the DoD, but the rest it kicks down the road until December. Congress fails to do its duty, again.

"President Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday that China supposedly respects him for his 'very, very large brain,' during a news conference where he addressed wide-ranging issues including trade, North Korea and mounting allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanuagh." I'm torn between doing a zombie thing, a "that's not how brains work" thing, or just pointing and laughing. I think I'll go with that last one. Also, it's not China that's paying the tariffs, because that's not how tariffs work. The companies importing the goods are paying the tariffs. So if Walmart orders 1000 washing machines, the factory in China doesn't pay the US government. It's Walmart that pays the tariff as the product they ordered arrives in port. And guess who pays Walmart to cover that tariff? Our "stable genius" president, everybody.

"In a statement on Wednesday, Graham called Avenatti a 'lawyer to porn stars' — he represents Stormy Daniels, who has alleged a sexual affair with Trump — who had 'taken this debacle to an even lower level.'" Dear Senator Graham, I think it's Brett Kavanaugh already took this far lower. This is attacking the messenger. (Grokked from someone, sorry, lost the link)

"Kavanaugh has been accused now of five - five - different episodes of attempted sexual assault or misconduct. Three were from women who went public with their allegations. Two more came in anonymous reports to the Judiciary Committee, which Kavanaugh was asked about in a call with the Judiciary Committee staff."

With the Kavanaugh hearing you may be asking yourself just how misogynist is the USA? "Jared Hensley, the athletic director and assistant principal at Soddy-Daisy High near Chattanooga, was placed on administrative leave Wednesday afternoon, soon after he said girls 'pretty much ruin everything' in a video he had made for the student body." All because of a ban on athletic shorts. I'm not sure why that's the girls fault, but that's from the administration. We'll overlook the Bible lesson in the morning announcement as well.

"Commentator Cokie Roberts talks with Rachel Martin about the history of outside counsels asking questions in hearings on Capitol Hill." Unprecedented.

"A California man who admitted to unwittingly facilitating Russian interference in the 2016 election and later cooperated with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the subject now fears for his safety, the man's attorney said in a court filing Wednesday." And that fear is not without reason. Frankly, Manafort should be more afraid. Not only is he providing state evidence (one assumes), but he has screwed over some of Russia's oligarchs (and then attempted to "make good" by providing access into the Trump campaign).

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Linkee-poo Wednesday

So that's where all the alligators were hiding.

"There are some fun moments in the final trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: Jude Law enjoying being the master of understatement as Dumbledore, not to mention a soulful Mirror of Erised moment between his and Grindelwald’s younger selves; and Newt getting the upper hand, er, wand, on his brother Theseus." And also some troublesome moments, such as Nagini being the only obvious woman of color in the trailer.

"Combining those two pieces of information, the team identified four possible stars that could have birthed 'Oumuamua: red dwarf HIP 3757, sunlike star HD 292249, and two other stars without such manageable nicknames as of yet."

"A high-resolution camera (HiRISE) aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured a small object on the slopes of Mars’ Perseverance Valley. That object is Opportunity, which was descending into this valley on Mars when a dust storm swept over the region a little more than 100 days ago." Phone home, Oppy.

"Japanese lunar exploration startup Ispace said it has signed up for launches on Elon Musk’s SpaceX rockets in 2020 and 2021, its first step towards offering services such as searching for water on the moon."

"For the first time, scientists have demonstrated that a controversial new kind of genetic engineering can rapidly spread a self-destructive genetic modification through a complex species." I'm not sure how I feel about this.

"An experimental GlaxoSmithKline vaccine could prevent tuberculosis from developing in half of those who receive it, making it potentially the first new shot against the global killer in a century, researchers said on Tuesday."

"Although there’s enticing evidence that good ol’ cannabis can ease chronic pain and possibly treat some medical conditions, whether CBD alone can deliver the same benefits remains an open question. What is clear, at this point, is that the marketing has gotten way ahead of the science."

"Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s freshman roommate at Yale University came forward late Monday, describing Kavanaugh as 'a heavy drinker' who became 'aggressive and belligerent' when drunk." You heard he has a temper, he'll beat you every night, but only when he's sober, so you'll be alright.

UN "Members in the audience laughed when Trump boasted of the 'extraordinary progress' during his presidency, during which he said he said he 'accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.'" Our stable genius president, everybody. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

From the end of August, but I think I missed this when it came out. "As part of a plea agreement under which he pledged to cooperate with federal prosecutors, the lobbyist, Sam Patten, pleaded guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent for a Russia-aligned Ukrainian political party, and to helping the Ukrainian oligarch who had funded that party illegally purchase four tickets to Mr. Trump’s inauguration." Again, for no collusion there sure are a lot of fucking Russians hanging about. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Christine Blasey Ford’s lawyers said Wednesday they have given the Senate sworn affidavits from four people who say she told them well before Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination that she had been sexually assaulted when she was much younger."

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Linkee-poo will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls, for the times they are a-changin'

And then there were four.

"'The 20th century was all about experimenting with technology and forgetting about the body,' says Galen Cranz, who studies chair design at the University of California, Berkeley… As a result, we've ended up with living rooms, offices and restaurants filled with chairs that are really bad for our backs, Cranz says. 'It's shocking how poorly designed they are for our bodies.'" And as a tall person, they're doubly bad. And don't get me started on "table-height." The article includes tips on how to sit properly. Back when air travel was still somewhat civilized, I used to ask for a small pillow (which airplanes used to have, in case you wanted to sleep) and use it as lumbar support.

"A renowned mathematician has claimed to have developed a proof for the Riemann hypothesis, a 160-year-old math problem that carries a $1 million bounty… Michael Atiyah, a mathematician who has won several of the highest awards in mathematics, gave a lecture at Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany on Monday to explain his proof of the Riemann hypothesis, which was first posited by Bernhard Riemann in 1859 about numbers return a value of zero when used as an argument for a certain function—but he abandoned trying to provide a proof." Nice work, but only if you prove it.

"For the elderly, a flood can turn in to an eviction notice. They're often on fixed incomes and can't afford repairs. Lifting even a waterlogged carpet out of their house may be physically challenging for them. So after having water pour in to their homes, they're often left with few options other than to leave."

For those wondering why Bob Dylan was given the Nobel Prize… "When Dylan first hit the music scene, Joan Baez was the reigning queen of folk. She would soon fall in love with both the man and his music — but even today, Baez doesn't pretend to know what went on in Dylan's head when he wrote the song 'The Times They Are a-Changin'' in 1963. Though it may have become an anthem, she doubts that's what he set out to create." True story, I used "The Times They Are a-Changin'" as background music on a small video I made in 1983 about a youth retreat.

Art in space. "…(A)rtist Trevor Paglen hopes to draw the public’s eye back to the sky with “Orbital Reflector,” a sculpture made of shiny material much like Mylar that will reflect the Sun’s light while orbiting the Earth. The sculpture, contained in a small structure called a CubeSat, is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in mid-November. When it enters orbit about 350 miles away from Earth, the sculpture will detach and inflate to its full shape, a diamond that may shine as bright as a star in the Big Dipper. After about two months, it will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrate."

"NASA scientists have combined data on our planet's rotation with a number of sophisticated models to find that melting ice is a major cause of a strange drift in our planet's wobbling spin."

Better living through chemistry. "The world's most widely used weed killer may also be indirectly killing bees. New research from The University of Texas at Austin shows that honey bees exposed to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, lose some of the beneficial bacteria in their guts and are more susceptible to infection and death from harmful bacteria." It's just may end up killing us yet.

Best healthcare system in the world? "Want medical care without quickly draining your fortune? Try Singapore or Hong Kong as your healthy havens… The U.S. will cost you the most for treatment, both in absolute terms and relative to average incomes, while life expectancy of Americans -- about 79 years -- was exceeded by more than 25 countries and territories, according to an annual Bloomberg analysis in almost 200 economies." We're tied with Azerbaijan at 54 out of 56. Guess what all the top performers had in common. Come on, it's no fun unless you guess. (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"Ebola prevention activities have been suspended in the Democratic Republic of Congo city of Beni after a deadly rebel attack." That ain't good.

"A shipment of overripe fruit to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice contained 540 packages of cocaine with an estimated street value of $17,820,000, authorities said."

How go the Trade Wars? "China hit out against the U.S. in a 71-page paper, accusing President Donald Trump's administration of "trade bullyism practices" that have become 'the greatest source of uncertainty and risk for the recovery of the global economy.'"

How goes Brexit? "The chances of Britain holding a second referendum on Brexit just got higher… Britain's opposition Labour party was voting Tuesday on a policy that would put a new public vote on the table if Prime Minister Theresa May failed to get an eventual Brexit deal through the UK Parliament."

Also, "The prime minister is sticking by her Chequers plan for future co-operation despite European leaders attacking it."

"While Gov. Rick Scott campaigns on the strength of Florida’s economy, there is no mention of a bleak milestone the state just reached — a record-low homeownership rate… more Floridians are now being forced to rent in an extremely tight and costly market… It’s also shining a light, again, on Scott’s vast personal wealth, which included a $1 million investment in a mortgage security firm, whose value peaked when the housing market was cratering in Florida and nationwide." True "man-of-the-people" there, Florida. As long as your people are multimillionaires. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"At the beginning of one of the most consequential weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency, an enormous smoke bomb was detonated in the news cycle when Axios, deeply wired in Trump’s West Wing, reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had resigned. Quickly, a head-spinning array of conflicting accounts were put forth: had he been fired? Was he heading to the White House to be fired—or was he going to a regularly scheduled meeting? Finally, Sarah Huckabee Sanders brought a measure of clarity by tweeting that whatever was going to happen to Rosenstein would happen on Thursday, when the president returned from New York." Gee, what else is happening on Thursday? But, yes, I agree all of this is their attempt to control the news cycle (either to help Kavanaugh or hide a Saturday-Night Massacre). And the Times story about Rosenstein was about creating a cover to fire him. Why do I say this? The president has fired people in higher positions via tweet while they were on opposite coasts. He's "waiting until he gets back from NY"? Yeah, right. You're watching all the president's men attempting to wage information warfare and failing. Time has come today. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Kavanaugh's third accuser has received multiple government clearances, including a 'secret' clearance, said Avenatti. This fact was repeated a few times, presumably to emphasize the woman's credibility." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"With his wife Ashley by his side, Kavanaugh seized control of his own defense against allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct that are threatening to overwhelm his hopes of joining the bench." He says he's not going anywhere. Makes popcorn. Waits to see "that banner with the strange device, Excelsior!"

"As Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was trying to rehabilitate his image in a Fox News interview Monday, the New York Times published an excerpt from Kavanaugh’s senior yearbook page that contradicts the studious, churchgoing image Kavanaugh was pushing of himself as a teenager. On Kavanaugh’s senior page, there were references to drinking and partying, as well as 'Renate Alumnius,' which the Times reports is a reference to Renate Schroeder, a student at an area Catholic girls’ school at the time. The 'Alumnius' appears to be a misspelling of either 'alumnus' or 'alumni,' which appear on a number of his classmates pages." What a swell guy. Also turns out she was one of the women standing up for Kavanaugh. Not anymore.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Linkee-poo you are the Abbott unto my Costello

"A pair of tiny satellites that will help test technology for a space elevator is on its way to the International Space Station."

How go the Trade Wars? "As fresh U.S. tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports take effect Monday, surveys show consumers growing increasingly worried about higher prices this fall. Giant retailers such as Walmart are warning of price increases for manufactured goods. And smaller businesses in swing states and districts from Washington state to Iowa to Tennessee are complaining bitterly about big hits to their exports." Oh noes, not the Walmarts!

"Four gunmen opened fire at Revolutionary Guard troops in the south-western city of Ahvaz on Saturday, killing 25 people including soldiers and civilians watching a commemorative parade." And so begins the fingerprinting.

"Moscow will bolster Syria's air defence following the downing of a Russian plane last week by sending a modern S-300 system to the Syrian army within two weeks, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said." Syria already has a pretty robust anti-air system, so this could be the Russians offloading some dated materials while also attempting to be seen as "doing something." Also, the S-300 (no word on which version) can be used as both a ballistic/cruise missile interceptor and as a short-range ballistic missile system (more advanced than Iran's SCUD). But, IIRC, it's the radar systems on these that are the interesting parts. So this could also be seen as a direct escalation of capabilities to deter both Israeli and US air craft (not to mention the strategic threat against Israel).

"Duke historian Nancy MacLean contends that (James McGill Buchanan's) philosophy is so stark that even young libertarian acolytes are only introduced to it after they have accepted the relatively sunny perspective of Ayn Rand… If Americans really knew what Buchanan thought and promoted, and how destructively his vision is manifesting under their noses, it would dawn on them how close the country is to a transformation most would not even want to imagine, much less accept." Have I talked about the rise of the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Federalist Society (the later being the group that groomed Judge Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch and influenced older judges like Antonin Scalia, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito)? (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

"CRC Public Relations, the prominent Alexandria, Virginia-based P.R. firm, guided Whelan through his roller-coaster week of Twitter pronouncements that ended in embarrassment and a potential setback for Kavanaugh’s hopes of landing on the high court, according to three sources familiar with their dealings." You may remember the CRC group as the company that laughed the Swift Boat ads against John Kerry. "It has long been the go-to communications firm for conservative organizations in Washington and across the country. Its current clients include the Federalist Society and the Judicial Crisis Network, the chief outside groups working to help confirm Kavanaugh." How is it that there are whole institutions and firms set up to support the right that are constantly caught lying and "fudging the truth"? (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

"Democrats are demanding an immediate halt to Brett Kavanaugh's nomination process after his increasingly troubled hopes of reaching the Supreme Court were hit by a new allegation of sexual misconduct as a young man." Oh, and apparently as a black out drunk teen, Kavanaugh is supposed to have keep a detailed diary. Um, yeah, Bob.

"On Sunday, Ford noticed that — even before her name became public — Whelan appeared to be seeking information about her… That morning, Ford alerted an associate via email that Whelan had looked at her LinkedIn page, according to the email, which was reviewed by The Post…Ford sent the email about 90 minutes after The Post shared her name with a White House spokesman and hours before her identity was revealed in a story posted on its website… A White House spokesman said Friday that neither Kavanaugh nor anyone in the White House gave Ford’s name to Whelan before it was disclosed by The Post." Well whatcha know about that. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

There's this SNL skit from the 80s about the Real Reagan White House. The gag is when none of the public is around Reagan is this super smart, able to speak several languages, decisive decision maker, but as soon as someone in the public enters the room, all the support staff wake up and Reagan goes back to the "aw, shucks" mode of operation. It's funny, because Reagan really wasn't that smart and most likely was experiencing the start of Alzheimer's disease during the re-election of 1984. But now, as it is clear from Janiece's reading of Fear, those were the good old days.

"Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort authorised a secret media operation on behalf of Ukraine’s former president featuring 'black ops', 'placed' articles in the Wall Street Journal and US websites and anonymous briefings against Hillary Clinton." This was when she was Secretary of State. Gee, that sounds an awful lot like the 2016 election. It also sounds a lot like the NYT story about Rosenstein wanting to wear a wiretap and gather people to enact the 25th Amendment. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

"The British-born music publicist who helped arrange that infamous meeting between senior Trump campaign officials and a Russian lawyer promising dirt on Democrats now believes the meeting could have been a set-up by Russian intelligence, he told NBC News in an exclusive television interview." So, if you go to rob a store, but the store doesn't have anything to rob, is it still a crime? (The answer is yes, BTW.)

"Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday he believes 'a bureaucratic coup' led by enemies of President Donald Trump is taking place at the Justice Department, and the senator asked that a new special counsel be appointed to investigate." And there's the why to the question about the Rosenstein NYT's story. This is information warfare, but now it's coming out of the White House. This is about clearing out people deemed "not loyal enough" from the institutions that could stop this president and the conservative take over.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Linkee-poo closes out the week

The alligators are quiet today. Too quiet.

A possible tornado in Middlefield. This is along one of my commute routes. I'll go through there tonight. Lots of talk on social media from friends who work or live there.

"I had a map, and now it’s gone." Chuck Wendig on trusting "the process."

"A Japanese space probe Friday released a pair of exploring rovers towards an egg-shaped asteroid to collect mineral samples that may shed light on the origin of the solar system."

"Scientists found the stem cells, which give rise to bones, cartilage and the spongy bone that harbors bone marrow, in fetal bones, adult bones and fat, researchers report online September 20 in Cell." Something new has been added.

Sometimes it's difficult for me to wrap my head around how far paleontology has progressed in my lifetime. "Organic molecules preserved with fossils of the genus Dickinsonia confirm that the creatures were animals rather than fungi or lichen, a study in the Sept. 21 Science says." Being able to find organic remnants from 500+ million years ago. I remember when the thought of, "Hey, yeah, blood from ticks and mosquitoes preserved in amber, that might work," was mostly science fiction.

"More than half of all countries will not meet global targets to cut deaths from cancer, heart disease and other chronic conditions, according to a report in the Lancet." The War on Cancer is not going well. Fuck cancer.

"Brian Wansink, the Cornell nutrition researcher who was world-renowned for his massively popular, commonsense-style dieting studies before ultimately going down in flames in a beefy statistics scandal, has now resigned—with a considerably slimmer publication record… Prior to the scandal, Wansink made a name for himself publishing studies indicating, generally, that such subtle environmental changes could lead to distinct eating and health benefits. He helped cook up the idea for the now ubiquitous 100-calorie snack packs, for instance. And he served up the suggestion to have fruit bowls placed prominently on our kitchen counters." Keep your notes, kids.

"A Texas man who has played a central role in making 3D-printed weapons available has been charged with sexually assaulting an underage girl." He's no longer in the country.

Something that got lost in the new cycles. "A 26-year-old woman who was working as a temporary employee at a Rite Aid warehouse center near Aberdeen, Maryland, killed three people Thursday and injured three others before turning the gun on herself… The Aberdeen shooting comes one day after gunfire rocked two other workplaces. A gunman who opened fire at a Middleton, Wisconsin, software company wounded three people and sent panicked office workers scrambling to safety on Wednesday before being fatally shot by police… In Fayette County, Pennsylvania, a gunman shot four people outside a judge's office and crowded courtroom on Wednesday before being killed by police."

"Hans-Georg Maaßen was Germany's top spy, in charge of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution… and he was widely understood to have used his position to aid crypt-fascist, far-right groups like the notorious Alternative For Germany (AfD)… Despite these conflicts of interest, Maaßen was able to cling to power -- until now… Following a well-documented instance of mob violence against immigrants in the eastern city of Chemnitz, where far-right demonstrators were video-recorded giving Nazi salutes and chanting racist slogans before chasing down and beating people of color, Maaßen publicly questioned the video footage's authenticity, claiming it had been faked to discredit the anti-migrant movements he had allied himself with." Well, at least he's been moved out of that position. It's unfortunate because of politics that he couldn't be fired outright.

How go the Trade Wars? "Chinese tech billionaire Jack Ma's promise to create 1 million new US jobs is the latest casualty of the trade war."

"President Donald Trump on Thursday once again tweeted his belief that major oil producers in the Middle East were conspiring to keep oil prices high, and he seemed to threaten the withdrawal of military resources from the region if the OPEC cartel did not help to lower prices." Our stable genius president, everybody. Somebody whisper in his ear about whom would control the Straits of Hormuz if we withdrew? But then, aren't the Iranians allies with Russia (who holds a lot of their debt)?

"Federal officers have arrested dozens of undocumented immigrants who came forward to take care of undocumented immigrant children in government custody, and the Trump administration is pledging to go after more." What a bunch of fucking stormtroopers. (Grokked from Steven Brust)

"The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) warned Melania Trump's spokeswoman over a tweet found to be in violation of the Hatch Act, according to a letter sent to a Democratic senator." Punishment is up to the president. So, yeah, nothing is happening. Most corrupt administration ever, and that was a high bar to get over. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"As Christine Blasey Ford's lawyers insist the FBI investigate her allegation of sexual and physical assault against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, here is a look back at how the FBI's investigation into Anita Hill's sexual harassment allegations against Justice Clarence Thomas came about."

"James Comey says Robert Mueller may be nearing the end of the Russia investigation." I think we're in the final lap. There's very few people left. What remains to be seen is how much Mueller has already assembled and was just lining up the ducks.

The battle over the Kavanaugh nomination is just flinging off misinformation and wild-ass speculation like a dog shakes off water. It's a little amazing to see. But the main takeaway is that conservatives want Kavanaugh on the bench. He's part of the Federalist Society grooming from the start of his college career and they see this as the culmination of 30 years of hard work. They will fight for this. On the other side we have the prospect of SCOTUS taking a hard-right dive (it's already right leaning). But this could drive our democracy into the ditch. This Sunday Talk Show roundup is going to be fireworks.

A former classmate of Kavanaugh lets the cat out of the bag. "'But then,' the former student continued, 'you’re getting all these 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds, 17-year-old kids doing whatever the fuck they wanted to do, with no repercussions. Drugs everywhere. Partying everywhere. Drinking — just whatever we wanted to do. It was unbelievable, off the rails. And that’s just how it was.'" It's all fun and games until someone important dies. He says it was like a fraternity. As a Delta, I don't remember any parties like that (insert jokes about "remembering", but seriously, nothing like that).

"Young people around the country are among those joining the debate over Christine Blasey Ford's accusation of sexual assault against Judge Brett Kavanaugh in 1982, when both were teenagers." Uhh, as a parent if you haven't talked to your teen about stuff like this, while this may be a good introduction, you're really behind the ball here.

"In the past, fascist politics would focus on the dominant cultural group. The goal is to make them feel like victims, to make them feel like they’ve lost something and that the thing they’ve lost has been taken from them by a specific enemy, usually some minority out-group or some opposing nation." A little historical perspective on fascism. (Grokked form somebody, sorry, lost the link)

"Russia President Vladimir Putin reportedly told President Donald Trump that the pair of leaders were not to blame for the lack of friendship between the two, instead pinning the responsibility on a “deep state” working against them, according to an upcoming new book."

"Cohen's attorney, Lanny Davis, wrote on Twitter that his client provided 'critical information' to Mueller's team, which is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice by President Donald Trump. Davis added Cohen did not have any agreement with Mueller's team and the move should be viewed as an honest one." Ah, the warm fuzzies going on in the White House right about now must be amazing.

"Maria Butina, the Russian woman accused of working as an unregistered foreign agent, encouraged pro-gun demonstrations in the U.S. as early as 2014, according to messages provided to NPR." More information on the "alleged" Russian operative. Can't tell the players without a program. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Linkee-poo Thursday

Sorry for so late. Revenge of the alligators.

"We stumble upon a huge amount of visual quotes while scrolling through our social media feeds. Some of them stand out, some of them don’t. Some people find them annoying, others – inspiring… Despite this controversy, visual quotes remain to be extremely popular and shareable in social media. For instance, it has been found that Twitter users who tweet quotes have 43% more followers than those who don’t." That's a meaningless statistic. Also I really find it annoying loading visual quotes all the time. It's one of the reasons I really dislike Facebook. Now if you're going to do this, I recommend following the rules of be relatable, and don't go overboard. The language also follows the "it's popular!" and "color sells" mantras. "Quote videos are not as widespread as images… which is definitely a major advantage! As video is one of the most engaging types of content, it makes sense to stand out among the competitors by creating an inspirational video." Wait, let me go get my flamethrower.

"Box-office giant Ticketmaster is recruiting professional scalpers who cheat its own system to expand its resale business and squeeze more money out of fans, a CBC News/Toronto Star investigation reveals." This is my shocked face. Really, I've never liked Ticketmaster and their escalating and numerous fees. Trying to buy tickets to some shows where the venues use Ticketmaster will quickly verify just how much scamming is going on. I'm only one consumer, but whenever I hit their site when trying to get tickets my likelihood of going to that show drops precipitously. Just because they're such a hassle. Also, I'm a pretty savvy shopper, and sometimes it takes me a few minutes to realize they're pushing a "scalped" ticket at me. Why would they do this? "So, for example, if Ticketmaster collects $25.75 on a $209.50 ticket on the initial sale, when the owner posts it for resale for $400 on the site, the company stands to collect an additional $76 on the same ticket." Was that really a question. So should Ticketmaster be regulated on these secondary sales? Sure. But unless those laws are "face-value" based (that is, selling a ticket for greater than the amount printed on the ticket - also note many tickets no longer print the cost on the actual ticket - is illegal and subject to arrest and fines), Live Nation will just spin off the secondary sales into it's own company… from which they'll still get their profit. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"It’s not just flattened bare peaks that have become the norm in mountaintop-mined West Virginia but also the pollution of streams and reduction in insects and animals that cannot survive under these conditions." Just more of that "clean coal" the president keeps talking about. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The Trump administration is proposing to roll back another Obama-era energy regulation, this time one that aimed to curb methane leaks from oil and gas operations on tribal and public lands." What could possibly go wrong?

"Two female mental health patients detained for medical transport drowned Tuesday night when a sheriff’s department van was swept away in rising South Carolina flood waters, according to authorities." They were handcuffed. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The attorney general of New York has reached an agreement with WeWork to eliminate or modify noncompete clauses from most of its employment contracts, which restricted workers' ability to find new jobs." Noncompete clauses are a form of economic terrorism on employees.

"Klein says the central tenet of the purity movement is to delay the age at which young people first have sex. But in practice, she says, the movement is most effective at stifling women's sexuality and creating a 'deep, long-lasting shame' among its practitioners." And it's not just for "evangelicals" (coughRightToLifecough), a lot of conservative buy into it.

"After a high-profile campaign to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016, a number of states moved to make it harder to protest oil and gas projects. Now in Louisiana, the first felony arrests of protesters could be a test case of these tougher laws as opponents vow a legal challenge." Your right to protest is slowly being eroded.

"In a letter sent to Sen. Patty Murray, D.-Wash., and obtained by Yahoo News, HHS Secretary Alex Azar outlined his plan to reallocate up to $266 million in funding for the current fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, to the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program in the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)… Nearly $80 million of that money will come from other refugee support programs within ORR, which have seen their needs significantly diminished as the Trump administration makes drastic cuts to the annual refugee numbers. The rest is being taken from other programs, including $16.7 million from Head Start, $5.7 million from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program and $13.3 million from the National Cancer Institute. Money is also being diverted from programs dedicated to mental and maternal health, women’s shelters and substance abuse." I believe this is the very definition of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. JFC, if our government gets any more short sighted it'll be bumping into walls and falling down the stairs. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

How go the Trade Wars? "The trade war between Washington and Beijing has dealt a big blow to American soybean farmers, who depend heavily on the Chinese market." It ain't never coming back.

"Hours after President Trump announced tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, China responded with its own levies on $60 billion worth of U.S. products."

"Two weeks ago, Walmart asked the Trump administration to walk back its plan to put tariffs on Christmas lights, shampoo, dog food, luggage, mattresses, handbags, backpacks, vacuum cleaners, bicycles, cooking grills, cable cords and air conditioners." There goes Black Friday. "At Walmart, we're rolling back those rollback prices!" Say, wasn't Walmart on a "made in America" media blitz just a few weeks ago? "'Given that Walmart was such a huge source of cheap products for low income customers over the years, this really hurts the very people that Trump professes to help,' said Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst for research firm Forrester." Anyone taking bets if this really drops him below 33% approval? "So while Walmart is already locked in for the coming holiday season, Christmas lights will probably be more expensive next year." Narrator voice, they've already ordered, and the items are probably mostly in the warehouse, there are still ships arriving with more.

"Polish President Andrzej Duda went to the White House with a big ask of President Trump: a permanent U.S. military base on Polish soil — named Fort Trump." The Poles know how to get to the president. But, IIRC, the host country doesn't get to name the base, also foreign bases aren't named "fort."

"'Is this your boat?' Mr. Trump asked the homeowner… When the man shook his head and said 'No,' the president turned with a grin and replied, 'At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.'" Our stable genius present, everybody.

"According to an annual index released Tuesday by the Center for Global Development that ranks 27 of the world's wealthiest countries, the U.S. scored dead last on foreign aid contributions and quality — despite being the largest donor in dollar amount. That's because in 2017, it allocated a mere 0.18 percent of its gross national income for development assistance. That is well short of the 0.7 percent that wealthy countries have committed to strive for since 1970. (Only seven countries met or exceeded that target in 2016.)" If only Trump were as concerned about our commitment to the world as he is with NATO countries with NATO. Not only did we score low on amount, we scored low on quality. Ouch.

"The Supreme Court on Tuesday insisted that many donations to predominantly conservative political nonprofit groups — what's often called dark money — be disclosed, seven weeks ahead of the 2018 midterm elections… The court set aside an order issued by Chief Justice John Roberts on Saturday. The social welfare group Crossroads GPS, a defendant in the lawsuit, had fought to stall disclosure while it prepares to appeal. It failed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and then appealed to the Supreme Court." Wow.

"Sen. Chuck Grassley has cultivated a decadeslong (sic) reputation for protecting whistleblowers and fighting for government transparency. Now he’s plunging into the harrowing task of probing a sexual assault allegation while advancing a Supreme Court nominee that could define him and the GOP for years to come." Remember the War on Women? "But his dilemma is the same as the rest of his party’s: Being as delicate as possible with an alleged sexual assault victim while keeping Kavanaugh headed toward the bench." Note that not voting Kavanaugh to SCOTUS is not an option.

"A former schoolmate of Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser wrote a Facebook post saying she recalls hearing about the alleged assault involving Kavanaugh, though she says she has no first-hand information to corroborate the accuser’s claims."

"The first thing Rick MacArthur, the president and publisher of Harper’s Magazine—which last week published a long essay from former public radio host John Hockenberry regarding allegations of sexual harassment and workplace bullying—says to defend the piece on Anna Maria Tremonti’s CBC radio show is that Hockenberry is in a wheelchair… That’s crucial to Hockenberry’s piece, titled 'Exile,' MacArthur argues. MacArthur insists—as Hockenberry did and as Katie Roiphe did earlier this year in a separate Harper’s essay—that the #MeToo movement 'lumps together' everyone from Harvey Weinstein to your creepy coworker who sends you inappropriate messages. 'There is a distinction,' he warns ominously. It seems that he really, truly believes that no one has stopped to think about this before; that no one is interested in the difference between assault and harassment." Mr. MacArthur, the corporate lawyers would like to have a word. Sounds like someone is going to have a class action lawsuit in their future. In today's mandatory sexual harassment training… (Grokked from Jeff VanderMeer)

"President Trump wrote on Tuesday that he ordered the release of classified materials about the ongoing probe into Russian election interference because 'really bad things were happening.'… The White House said Trump is taking this action out of a desire for 'transparency,' but former law enforcement and intelligence officials warned the directive threatens to expose sensitive sources and methods." Again, the "review" is window dressing to play the victim. The president can declassify the documents right this moment. But he really doesn't want to. He wants to tell you that if you could see the documents, you'd be scandalized. The documents were already reviewed for declassification when they were provided to the House and Senate committees.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Linkee-poo was the pride of the American side

"Some of the most popular Pro Football Hall of Famers are threatening not to return to Canton for the annual enshrinement or for the NFL’s centennial celebration planned for 2020 in Canton unless they receive health care benefits and a salary from the National Football League. Neither of which the Hall of Fame controls." Dear NFL, don't fuck this up. You don't want to piss off Canton.

"A unicorn of the sea somehow ended up separated from other narwhals. Luckily, the lost narwhal was welcomed into a pod of beluga whales, where they were spotted frolicking in the St. Lawrence River." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"About 1,200 nautical miles east of Hawaii lies a patch of ocean that researchers had thought to be a desert of sorts. But for reasons unknown to them, each winter, great white sharks would leave the food-abundant waters along the US and Mexican west coast for a sojourn in the middle of nowhere." The things we don't know about our world.

"Based on previous data, the amount of infrared radiation is much more than the neutron star should be emitting, Posselt said. So 'all of the emission in infrared we see is likely not coming from the neutron star itself,' Posselt said. 'There's something more.'"

"Mosquito larvae have been observed ingesting microplastics that can be passed up the food chain, researchers said Wednesday, potentially uncovering a new way that the polluting particles could damage the environment."

"Manteufel initially thought he had a bad case of the flu, but in his blood, doctors discovered a type of bacteria normally found in the mouths of dogs and cats." The normal bacteria around us can cause severe problems when it gets in the wrong environment, especially your blood. Sepsis is one the fastest growing areas of medical treatment. Practitioners are getting trained on how to spot and how to treat cases. It's not something to ignore. My guess is dogs licked and open wound or cut and that's how it got into his blood stream.

"Four European patients developed breast cancer after receiving organs from the same donor, a case report explains." There are risks with any medical procedure, and the current state of medical science isn't as advanced as most people believe.

The other casualties of Florence. "About 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 hogs have been killed in flooding from Florence as rising North Carolina rivers swamped dozens of farm buildings where the animals were being raised for market, according to state officials."

"Last week, powerful Hurricane Florence was downgraded from a Category 4 to a Category 2 and eventually a Category 1 as it made landfall – and this may have contributed to a false sense of security."

"A 37-year-old Navy Chief Petty Officer in Florida was found dead on Monday -- the same day she was to appear at a court hearing for an order of protection she sought against a man she claimed kicked her in the stomach and pulled a gun on her, authorities said… In a heavily-redacted incident report released Tuesday, sheriff's officials wrote that the homicide is not related to domestic violence." Yeah, I'm not so convinced of that.

"Tesla shares tumbled on Tuesday amid reports of a potential criminal probe over its chief executive officer's statements about taking the company private." The ol' pump and dump. Starting an office poll on when Elon Musk will enter rehab.

"A former senior government official who oversaw refugee resettlement under Barack Obama warned that the Trump administration’s decision to slash the refugee admissions cap to a record low could have fatal consequences."

"North Korea said it would close a key missile test facility in the presence of "international experts" and potentially destroy its primary nuclear complex if the United States agrees to corresponding measures, South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced in a joint press conference with Kim Jong Un Wednesday." Dear North Korea, you are not our only threat.

"Roughly 25 percent of Americans believe in a conspiracy pedaled recently by President Donald Trump that the Hurricane Maria death toll was over-reported, according a new HuffPost/YouGov poll." I remember when people made fun of the Colbert Report's concept of "truthiness."

"The latest proposal is for Ford and Kavanaugh to testify under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. However, these allegations are extremely serious and we — five former federal prosecutors with a combined experience of many decades — believe that a Senate hearing, if it indeed occurs, is not enough. It will not adequately provide the American public with the full facts and truth about these allegations, nor, importantly, will it allow the Senate to fulfill its constitutional role of “advice and consent” in the context of potential Supreme Court justices. Rather, there must be a thorough, unrushed investigation by the FBI or by another independent investigator and a full and fair public hearing, including all relevant witnesses and not just Kavanaugh and his accuser."

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Linkee-poo let the sun beat down upon my face

"Watching an infant propel herself across the floor on wheels in a saucer-shaped baby walker may be as entertaining as a comedy episode. But because hospital emergency rooms treat more than 2,000 babies a year for injuries while using these walkers, American pediatricians are repeating their decades-old call for a ban."

"For decades, a daily dose of aspirin has been widely considered a way to protect healthy people from cardiovascular disease and even cancer. But a large, international study finds that, even at low doses, long-term use of aspirin may be harmful — without providing benefit — for older people who have not already had a heart attack or stroke." Taking aspirin daily is not recommended for self-prescription, please consult a doctor.

"Multi-surface cleaners and other commonly used household disinfectants could be making children overweight by altering the bacteria found in their guts, a new study published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests." It probably helps, but the real culprit is high-fructose corn syrup (which has been put into everything).

Watch out for counterfeit bike helmets.

"It's been two weeks since we saw those terrible images of the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro being consumed by fire. It was Brazil's oldest museum, with a collection of some 20 million items. Many of those items are now gone, and they can never be replaced."

"CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday unloaded on Twitter users, including Donald Trump Jr., spreading conspiracy theories about his coverage of Hurricane Florence." OMG, you mean there could be several levels below water? Shocked, shocked I am… I wonder if Jr ever had to drive if he's be surprised by potholes, fireplugs, and other items that may be covered by snow that makes the road and yards all look flat?

How goes Brexit? "Yet, at the same time, the British government is also warning British consumers and companies that they should brace themselves for a cold-turkey withdrawal, a “no-deal Brexit” or 'Brexit doomsday' — causing some degree of panic."

How goes the Trade War? "President Donald Trump will impose 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, and those duties will rise to 25 percent at the end of the year." Happy Black Friday and Xmas sales, everybody.

"Syria inadvertently shot down a Russian military plane after an Israeli attack on Syrian positions, killing 15 people on board, Moscow said." Oopsie. Of course they blamed Israel, because why not. You know, it couldn't possibly be their lack of battlefield control.

Yes, they will come for us all. "So perhaps it's not surprising that 'Barbara,' a Kansan woman, was told by the US Passport Agency that her birth certificate would not suffice for a passport renewal. The Passport Agency advised her to send her 'family Bible' or her parents' green cards of border-crossing documents (Barbara's parents were born in the USA)." Her birth certificate was for a home birth, and the State Department denied it was legit because it wasn't from a hospital (it was from the local county office, which is were births are actually recorded and birth certificates are retained). Fortunately her Senator intervened. She was not "naturalized", he parents were born in the US. They will come for us all.

So how's the policy of being dicks to immigrants working to slow the tide of them coming? "Despite the Trump administration's immigration clampdown, newly released data show the number of Central American families and unaccompanied children crossing the Southwest border illegally has risen sharply." America, even an asshole America, is still preferable. They know they may die trying to even get to our border. While horrendous, family separation isn't the worst thing they face.

"As the confirmation vote for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh neared, both parties had seen potential political benefits for them in the upcoming midterm elections." I'm sure voting another conservative accused of sexual harassment to SCOTUS won't be a problem for the GOP in the midterms.

"President Trump's eldest son Donald Trump Jr. appeared to make light of new details of allegations of sexual assault against his father's pick to be the next Supreme Court Justice." What a schmuck.

"President Trump on Monday ordered the declassification of select classified documents relating to the Russia investigation, including the secret court order and supporting interviews that allowed for the surveillance of former campaign adviser Carter Page. The selection of documents, which includes unredacted text messages from former government officials Trump has pegged as mortal enemies—including former FBI director James Comey, deputy director Andrew McCabe, former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, as well as interviews with Justice Department official Bruce Ohr—amount to a one-sided data dump under the auspices of 'transparency' that’s designed to provide ammunition to Trump allies in congress to discredit and derail the Mueller investigation." Yeah, Mueller flipping Manafort must have really scared the bejesus out of them. What I think is hilarious is that before this the president has just unilaterally declassified items (especially when he's been talking with Russians, not that this is suspicious in any way), which he has the power to do, but in this case he's ordering a "review." These documents have already been reviewed when provided to the Senate and House committees. What he's looking for is an excuse to say, "If you could see these, you'd know it's a witch hunt, but you can't see them."

Monday, September 17, 2018


Well that was some interesting traffic over the weekend.

"Small streams look more like rivers. Rivers like raging torrents. And city streets and stretches of interstate highways -- dotted with rescue boats -- like free-flowing waterways… That's the reality in wide swaths of eastern North Carolina in the watery wake of Hurricane Florence." And we're not done yet.

"Heavy rains from Florence caused a slope to collapse at a coal ash landfill at a closed power station near the North Carolina coast, Duke Energy says… Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said late Saturday about 2,000 cubic yards of ash were displaced at the L. V. Sutton Power Station outside Wilmington and that contaminated runoff likely flowed into the plant's cooling pond… The company has not yet determined whether the weir that drains the lake was open or if contamination may have flowed into the Cape Fear River. That's roughly enough ash to fill 180 dump trucks."

"The raccoon scourge was bad enough that (Toronto) spent CA$31 million on 'raccoon-resistant' organic green-colored waste bins in 2016. It was the latest assault in what Canadian media have called a 'raccoon war.'" Nature finds a way.

"As more states legalize marijuana for medical or recreational use — 30 states plus the District of Columbia to date — the cannabis industry is booming. Among the fastest growing group of users: people over 50, with especially steep increases among those 65 and older. And some dispensaries are tailoring their pitches to seniors like Avedon who are seeking alternatives treatments for their aches, pains and other medical conditions." The rise in cannabis can be seen as a direct reputation of the current state of healthcare in America.

"A U.S. Border Patrol supervisor is being held in Texas on a $2.5 million bond after his arrest over the weekend on charges of killing four women after a fifth would-be victim escaped and alerted authorities."

"In a sign that America's two centuries-old democracy is under strain, nearly 2 in 5 American voters do not believe elections are fair, according to a new NPR/Marist poll. Nearly half of respondents lacked faith that votes would be counted accurately in the upcoming midterm elections." The various breakdowns are even more telling. "Whereas 62 percent of white respondents said they travel less than 10 minutes to get to their polling place on average, just 41 percent of African-Americans and Latino voters said the same." The game is rigged, but not in the way the president is saying.

"Internal emails show that the Berkeley, California Police Department (BPD) talked of building a 'counter-narrative' on social media against anti-fascist protesters as BPD tweeted out their names and mugshots, then boasted of retweets and 'engagement' metrics when mugshots went viral. This amounts to cops doxxing protesters and high-fiving each other over it. That's creepy, and seems like an obvious abuse of power, if not also an abuse of the law."

"At the downtown bistros and power-lunch venues that serve as official Washington’s unofficial commissaries, there is a creeping sense of paranoia. It’s not just the heightened political sniping… Instead, for those career civil servants whose bureaus have attracted the suspicion of the White House, much of the fear is emanating from the president himself. 'That is the new normal. We meet in the back rooms of coffee shops, and only set up in-person conversations and talk in private,' an ex-administration official said of interactions with their former colleagues. 'They are absolutely paranoid, even when the discussion is of the most anodyne nature.'" It's worse than we think. I can't wait to hear the revisionists in the GOP come out with "we need to elect 'good' business people to run government like a 'good' business." (Grokked from William Freedman)

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Linkee-poo weekend

Lots of late week things.

"Every year the National Book Foundation features a few fresh faces or unfamiliar names among the nominees for its annual literary prize. This time around, though, there's a twist. One of the actual National Book Award categories is something readers have not seen for quite some time: a prize for a work in translation."

"The little German car that started in a Nazi-era factory and later carried countless hippies to concerts, lovefests and be-ins is nearly at the end of its 80-year journey. Volkswagen announced Thursday that it will cease production of its Beetle in July 2019." True story, one of my dream cars is a Beetle convertible.

You know that cultural perception about how rich people are smarter and harder working than the rest of us schlubs? Yeah, hold my beer. "The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is recommending that customers who have been to one particular spa in Albuquerque get tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Anyone who received any type of injection related service, including a so-called 'vampire facial,' at the VIP Spa in Albuquerque should get tested as soon as possible, especially if they got the procedure in May or June, the health department said." Look, all that's going on is a drying process. You can get the same with a lot of other items including water. Vampire facials. JFC, just how dumb are the rich? One, the outer layers of your skin are dead cells (and they serve a vital purpose) and 2) your blood circulates and takes those same nutrients to the skin anyway. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The median annual income for a person right after they are released from prison is $6,500, so it's understandable why 70% of them receive food assistance of about $200 a month. This summer the House passed a bill that will deny food stamps to people who have served their sentences for violent crimes." When you take everything away for people you shouldn't be surprised when they act like they have nothing to lose.

"Now that agency fees are gone, a new battle is on for the hearts, minds and wallets of union members. Conservative right-to-work organizations have launched a nationwide campaign to convince public-sector employees to 'opt out' — to quit their union and stop paying union dues. Unions are fighting back to keep those members — and their money — on board… The main pitch is to workers’ pocketbooks: You can quit your union, keep your dues and still get union benefits — for free." Things are great, until the Union doesn't have enough money to stay open or actually negotiate contracts or settle disputes. I wonder when people will realize that the union could negotiate different pay scales for those in or out of the union? It isn't in their best interests to do so, but that might be an option.

"A big U.S. meatpacker has agreed to pay $1.5 million to 138 Somali-American Muslim workers who were fired from their jobs at a Colorado plant after they were refused prayer breaks, a federal anti-discrimination agency said Friday." The union is also paying a settlement because they didn't handle the the dispute for their union members and also discriminated and verbally abused the Somali-American workers. Wonder if we'll see the "Religious Freedom" folks celebrate this win. Hello? Hello? Bueller?

"Federal authorities have opened an investigation into a series of explosions that set off fires in several small towns in Massachusetts on Thursday night, killing one person and injuring several others… The National Transportation Safety Board announced Friday that it is sending a team to investigate 'what certainly appears to be multiple explosions involving a natural gas pipeline.'… 'State emergency management officials say "possible gas line over-pressurization" could be the cause of [the] explosions.'" I think that's a good guess. Say, those are computer controlled, aren't they?

How go the Trade Wars? "The American lobster industry is starting to feel the pinch of China’s tariff on U.S. seafood as exporters and dealers cope with sagging prices, new financial pressures and difficulty sending lobsters overseas… China is a major buyer of lobsters, and it imposed a heavy tariff on exports from the U.S. in early July amid trade hostilities between the two superpowers. Exporters in the U.S. said their business in China has dried up since then." While the article talks about importing Canadian lobsters, but I would think they'd actually go for Australian lobsters first. Unfortunately we aren't seeing much of a price break here in the US.

"U.S. industrial production rose by a healthy 0.4 percent in August, boosted by gains in the production of autos, oil and natural gas." I remember 2007, things were great. But I'll concede at the moment that we may not see the first quarter of recession (note, a recession is defined by 2 quarters of negative GDP growth) this year. And while I know I sound like those end of the world prophets as a I say this, but definitely next year.

"U.S. retail sales barely rose in August as consumers slowed their spending after a robust month of shopping in July." August is "back to school" season, and while the generation currently in school is a smaller one, you'd think there would have still been a larger bump.

"In a remote pocket of northern Yemen, many families with starving children have nothing to eat but the leaves of a local vine, boiled into a sour, acidic green paste. International aid agencies have been caught off guard by the extent of the suffering there as parents and children waste away." Trigger warning because of photos of malnourished children.

It's not just the confederacy. "A 19th century statue near San Francisco’s City Hall that some said is racist and demeaning to indigenous people was removed Friday and put into storage."

So if the Trump administration enacted family separations to make coming to the US more of a burden, how's that working out? "The Trump administration is expanding its shelter capacity to handle a record number of immigrant teenagers who crossed the border seeking work and asylum. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is now overseeing the care of 12,800 immigrant children under the age of 18."

"In recent weeks it’s become clear that Donald Trump wants to meet with Kim Jong Un again, and the North Korean leader has told the White House he’d like more face-to-face talks with the American president." He, he got a popularity bump the first time. Why not try the same schtick again? And I love the line about Kim Jung Un being exposed to the West. Where do you think he was educated?

"The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) next week will test the Emergency Alert System, which allows the President to address Americans via text message in the event of a national emergency." Drops cell phone in the garbage. (Grokked from Maureen Johnson)

"Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has concluded a plea deal that will avert a trial in Washington, D.C., on charges related to his lobbying work in Ukraine and allegations of witness tampering in the case against him… The latest superseding criminal information released on Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller distilled the charges against Manafort down to two: conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice." Conspiracy against the US. Hmm, well, whatcha know. I wonder whom he conspired with?

"Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told the judge Manafort's plea agreement is a 'cooperation agreement,' and other charges will be dropped at sentencing at 'or at the agreement of successful cooperation.' The scope of the cooperation was not immediately clear." I bet it's positively chilly in the West Wing right about now.

Follow the money. "The June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower has become one of the most famous gatherings in American political history: a flashpoint for allegations of collusion… But secret documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News reveal a previously undisclosed aspect of the meeting: a complex web of financial transactions among some of the planners and participants who moved money from Russia and Switzerland to the British Virgin Islands, Bangkok, and a small office park in New Jersey." (Grokked for Kathryn Cramer, I think)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Question and Statement

So, for all my "European" friends, are you all seeing the cookies notice? I've tried to view it, but can't.

In case not, I personally do not do anything with cookies beyond site metrics and Google analytics. I don't follow you to other sites. And I most certainly don't sell any information. So anything else going on besides data for analytics is being done by Google and not by me.

However, in the future I may need to increase use of cookies because of the influx of interesting (waves to my Russian friends) traffic spikes. It it becomes necessary for a response or to more accurately pinpoint where the traffic is coming from and whom may be messing around at the edges. We'll only pull that trigger if it becomes necessary (as there are other ways to get that data).

Linkee-poo goes screaming into the night

Man, what a year this week has been.

"Florence slowly made landfall in Wilmington, N.C. Friday, causing a life-threatening storm surge, according to the National Hurricane Center."

"The other reason I plan to wait out this hurricane is to remain close to my home and look after my property if Florence crushes it… You got to defend your home. As my friend Mark put it while we were sitting in Waterline Brewery drinking Mango Kolschs yesterday, 'Death before Dishonor.'" Of course it's at Fox News. And as the bug in MIB said, "Your proposal is acceptable." At least it looks like his house is on high ground.

"Hurricane Florence has made landfall in North Carolina, but its crawling pace and overwhelming storm surges are setting up hours and hours of destruction and human suffering -- with dozens desperately awaiting rescue in one flooded town alone." Also note that the storm is expected to stall over the state (it may pass over the Appalachias and head into Ohio). If it does, all that water is going to head to the coast. So you may make it through the initial strike, but still not be out of danger.

Also just a reminder, New Orleans survived the eye-wall of Katrina, it was when all of the storm's water came down the Mississippi when New Orleans flooded. Everything from Florence that drops east of the Appalachias will head east to the shore. And she still has a lot of water in those clouds.

"Super Typhoon Mangkhut is hurtling through the Pacific, boasting 180 mph winds threatening millions of people across Asia in what is estimated to be one of the strongest systems on record." Mangkhut is equivalent to a Cat 5 Hurricane. There is no Cat 6.

Delilah S. Dawson tweet storm on pitching. Also as a note, unless asked, don't start with it. So pitches, "Left-behind rom/com for those of us who will be left-behind." "Seven Samurai, but just one guy and he works for the crooks." "Battle of the gods from the view point of the tool." "Landlocked fairy-Jaws police drama/slasher."

"Humans are suspected to have killed off the largest birds that ever lived. Regardless of whether that's true, however, new evidence shows that they coexisted for thousands of years." There's a lot of breathless, "but humans lived with the elephant birds for almost 9,000 years (before the birds went extinct). Like these are two separate issues. When really all it means is that he continued to hunt the birds until the population reached a tipping point about a thousand years ago, when our predation (and other animals) outstripped the bird's ability to reproduce (either population size and/or environmental changes).

"This is how it happens when extraterrestrials make contact with Earth… It starts with a newspaper report about suspicious activity at a space research facility—government agents and military vehicles. The local sheriff gets angry and confused. Then the TV news reports feature interviews with locals saying things like, 'Nothing really happens here very much. And since nobody knows, it could be almost anything.'" (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"On Thursday evening, without any advance notice, SpaceX tweeted that is had signed the world’s 'first private passenger to fly around the Moon aboard our BFR launch vehicle.' Moreover, the company promised to reveal 'who's flying and why' on Monday, September 17. The announcement will take place at the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif."

"The pain could be a bad sign. It could mean that an experimental treatment Reid is betting on hasn't worked to control his cancer. Instead of curbing the leukemia, the cancer may be continuing to proliferate… Reid… came to NIH in July to take part in a an early-stage clinical trial for a cancer treatment called CAR-T for short." Fuck cancer.

"The chief executive of a small pharmaceutical company defended hiking the price of an essential antibiotic by more than 400 percent and told the Financial Times that he thinks 'it is a moral requirement to make money when you can.'" Actually, Nirmal Mulye, CEO Nostrum Laboratories, that's the exact fucking opposite of a "moral requirement." You college is calling, they want their degree back. I feel a little sorry for them, because when we finally get them all against the wall, they really won't understand why. (Grokked form Matt Staggs)

"In this article I offer new evidence about something readers of Academic Questions already know: The political registration of full-time, Ph.D.-holding professors in top-tier liberal arts colleges is overwhelmingly Democratic." Note that while the article writer then goes on to say that this also can lead to research bias that his own sample is small and self-limiting (only tenured or tenure-track faculty, only "liberal arts colleges" as listed by US News, but then this is the focus of the organization). But gee, it does seem that the more educated you are the less likely you'll be a Republican. Also note, the organization seems to have an axe to grind (if you read some of their reports, or at least the summation). (Grokked from Fred Clark)

How go the Trade Wars? "U.S. automakers in China are feeling the most pain as some American companies are getting hurt by new tariffs from both the White House and Beijing, according to a survey released this week from the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai and Beijing-based American Chamber of Commerce in China."

"Ten years ago, the collapse of Lehman Brothers signaled that the U.S. was hurtling toward a financial crisis. In the years that followed, consumers faced difficulty managing debt as the economy contracted, unemployment accelerated and incomes stagnated… So where are we 10 years later?"

"The Department of Homeland Security transferred nearly $10 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to a budget document released by a Democratic senator late Tuesday night, diverting funds from the relief agency at the start of the hurricane season that began in June." I am not a budget expert, but I believe that line item transfer would be illegal without an Congressional vote. At least it would be for local governments. Or do departments not have their own line items in appropriation bills anymore? (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

"The actions by Long, the U.S. government’s lead disaster official as the country braces for Hurricane Florence, have been called into question by the inspector general over whether taxpayers have inappropriately footed the bill for his travel, an issue that has tripped up a number of current and former top Trump administration officials." Ah, the well functioning government. It's just like most large businesses I've worked for. Congrats conservatives.

"Some of Willie Nelson’s conservative fans are angry that the country legend is throwing his support behind Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke." Just like with Bruce Springsteen, apparently conservatives don't know the words. But if you've followed the various writers in social media you'll note that more than likely these people really weren't fans, weren't going to buy the new album or tickets to see the show. They're just trying to silence someone with an actual megaphone. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

Sometime I wonder if I'm in a media bubble, and then I see articles like this. "'But my book actually uses science and real data and true psychological theory to explain why it is quite possible that this president is the most sound-minded person to ever occupy the White House,' she said." Uh, yeah, Bob. It's a book, written by someone without an actual psychology degree, the PhD is from an "online" school (coughDiplomaMillcough), and she's a part of Trump's 2020 re-election campaign. Yeah, by comparison I'm way outside of any bubble. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"President Donald Trump allegedly ordered an architect not to include braille in Trump Tower elevator panels because 'no blind people' would live in his building—even after being informed that excluding the tactile writing system is against federal law." Of course, you know, he didn't really mean it, according to his enablers. I know we all often joke about keeping "the blinds" out of our spaces. You know, like you do. "(Barbara Res, who led construction at the Trump Organization) said she 'wasn’t surprised' by snippets in either piece, and that Trump even in the past 'would expect people to lie for him.'" Our president, everybody. He shouldn't even be allowed to clean up the horse shit after the parade. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Last minute add Forgot to mention there's word that Manafort is going to cop a plea for his second trial (failing to register as a foreign agent and other election things). He could be doing this because 1) they've got him dead to rights and he want to avoid the legal bill, 2) he expects a presidential pardon or commutation and want to avoid the legal bill or 3) he's going to cooperate with the Mueller investigation. My money is on #2.